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tennisIlove09
Apr 21st, 2004, 06:02 AM
USTA's US Open Series snags all but San Diego
Schwartz: 'This is one of the most powerful messages that can be sent
to the public: Join our sport.'
Haas' US vacation; US Davis Cup on clay?

By Matthew Cronin
********************



http://www.********************/tr.net_photos_art/usta_usopen_series.gifThe much-talked about US Open Series finally came to fruition in a big way on Tuesday when the USTA announced that it has struck deals with 10 of 11 North American summer hard-court tournaments (San Diego excluded) leading up to the US Open.

The US Open Series will mark the first time that there will be a consistent television schedule for the tournaments beginning the week of July 12 with the men's' Mercedes-Benz Cup in LA and the women's Bank of the West Classic at Stanford.

The USTA will spend some $3 million this year buying TV rights, promoting the Series and offering more prize money to players. USTA president Alan Schwartz said that by combining this effort with the organization's new Tennis Welcome Centers, the USTA hopes to have 30 million Americans playing in 2010, an increase of six and half million players.

******************** broke the story in January with an interview with Schwartz.

"The bottom line is this is probably one of the two most mission driven initiatives we have ever had to promote and develop the growth of tennis," said Schwartz. "I firmly believe that if we have regular Saturday and Sunday exclusive coverage, five-hour coverage every week between Wimbledon and the US Open, we will develop more fans, we will have more stars being developed and ultimately more players. So this initiative coupled with Tennis Welcome Centers is one of the most powerful messages that can be sent to the public, which is 'Come out and play. Join our sport.' "

Tim Leiweke, the CEO of AEG, which now owns the WTA's JP Morgan Classic in Los Angeles, said he's most impressed with the USTA's commitment.

"It would have been easy for them to rest on the laurels of the US Open," he said. "That is enough of a task. They clearly generate enough success from that particular venue and event and opportunity that they didn't need to reach out and ultimately expand this relationship. It wasn't a necessary mandate, but I think the industry needed some new leadership. I think the industry needed a new vision. I think what they have done over the past three years is a vision for the future of the sport that will make the sport much better on the professional level and it will have a significant impact on the development level."

SAN DIEGO DOESN'T SEE ENOUGH INCENTIVE
But Raquel Giscafre, who co-owns the Tier 1 $1.3 million Acura Classic at San Diego's La Costa resort with Jane Stratton, didn't see the benefit of joining up this year.

"It's a good initiative for the US and for those tournaments who joined up, but the USTA's offer to us wasn't good enough," Giscafre told tr.net. "We are the only Tier I women's tournament in the summer and didn't want to be lumped in with the others. We already had a TV deal with ESPN and we didn't want give up any other rights."

The Acura Classic has already attracted the world's top four marquee players to July 26-August 1 event: the Williams sisters as well as Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters.

"We already have all the ingredients in place for a successful tournament and we have been successful in the past," Giscafre said. "It's nice to be affiliated with the US Open, but we have already paid to be a Tier I and have been down a long road of challenges to get where we are. We have earned our Tier I status and are the most popular tournament for the players. We're willing to listen to any offers the USTA might make in the future, but it will have to add to our tournament. I only hope that the additional money and points they are offering the others tournaments don't hurt us in the future."

The TV agreement with ESPN provides a regular, weekly schedule of live broadcasts in prime viewing time slots for US Open Series events. In addition, CBS Sports and NBC will televise select weekend coverage. The combined coverage of 100 hours of US Open Series events and 140 hours of US Open broadcasts on CBS and USA represent a record 240 hours of pro tennis coverage over eight weeks during the summer. The Tennis Channel is scheduled to broadcast select early rounds and is in discussions with the USTA regarding additional coverage.

For the first time ever, players competing in the US Open Series tournaments will be vying for bonus prize money at the US Open. Effective in 2005, the men's and women's winner of the US Open Series will play for double the prize money at the US Open. This year, the two winners of the US Open Series will receive one and one-half times the prize money they would otherwise receive at the US Open. In addition, the second-place and third-place finishers will also receive bonus prize money based on their US Open performance.

The Series is seen by many to be the brainchild of Arlen Kantarian, the USTA's Chief Executive, Professional Tennis, who has worked diligently on the concept over the past two years. In fact, it was only a few months ago that the USTA believed that because scheduling and marketing might of the Olympics, that it might only be able to bringing in a handful of tournament in 2004. But Kantarian and 10 tournament directors saw it immediately as a win-win situation.

"This unprecedented partnership within the sport has resulted in a huge step forward for pro tennis in North America," Kantarian said. "The US Open Series creates, for the first time, a clear and concise big-league summer season for tennis, leading into and culminating with the US Open. A unified Series with a consistent television platform benefits everyone – players, tournaments, broadcasters, sponsors, and, most importantly, fans. It's a testament to the sport's shared desire to increase fan and media attention."

The US Open Series will begin with the Mercedes-Benz Cup and Bank of the West Classic. The US Open Series continues over the course of the ensuing six weeks: in Indianapolis (men), Los Angeles (women), Toronto (men), Cincinnati (men), Montreal (women), Washington, D.C. (men), New Haven (women), and Long Island (men) - leading directly into the US Open.

Haas' US vacation; US Davis Cup on clay? http://www.********************/tr.net_photos_art/HAAS_sm_us_01_backhand.jpg
Susan Mullane/Camerawork USA

Tommy Haas takes out Andy Roddick to win in Houston.
After watching Tommy Haas play so miserably in his first match back in San Jose in early February, it was inspiring to see the talented German rediscover himself in Houston, where he beat Andy Roddick in the final. Haas should be a factor the rest of the year.

Roddick – who has played every week save for one since second week of January – said he wouldn't have played if weren't for his close ties with promoter Jim McIngvale. The No. 2-ranked American then pulled out of Monte Carlo, joining Rogr Federer and Andre Agassi as top players who decided not to play the first clay court Masters Series of the year.

Juan Carlos Ferrero should have been so lucky. The two-time defending champion was schooled 6-2, 6-by Alex Corretja on Tuesday. It was the defending Roland Garros champ's second consecutive clay court defeat following his loss to Fernando Verdasco in last week's Valencia semis. His RG defense is looking very shaky.

It looks like few of the top guys are paying attention to the ATP's stated desire that they play all the Masters Series, even though the players automatically lose points if they don't. Most of the top guys are correctly assuming that the others will skip a Masters Series or two, so what's the incentive to show up at all nine?

The Monte Carlo field is still pretty decent, with Guillermo Coria, Lleyton Hewitt, Marat Safin, David Nalbandian (playing his first event in six weeks) and Carlos Moya still in.

Of course, tournament play is increasingly becoming hard to follow on the ATP's web site, with the tour pushing fantasy Euro weekends, monopolistic partnerships with ISPs, DVDS and backyard courts of the rich and famous. The tour is becoming capitalistic to the point that it's obscuring the beauty and meaning of the sport in its headstrong drive to creating more centers of profitability.

Sometimes it's hard to tell what the tour is selling: tennis, or fantasy camps with bobblehead dolls.

HARD OR SOFT IS THE QUESTION
Where will the US-Belarus Davis Cup semis be played? Houston or Charleston on clay, or Carson or Flushing Meadows on a slow hard court? Correct me if I'm being too macho, but if I'm Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish and the Bryans et al, I would ask Captain Pat McEnroe to play the tie on slow hard courts. The US can't possibly fear facing Belarus on their favorite surface at home and choose clay instead, would they? Roddick and the Bryans both have enough weapons to down Max Mirnyi and Vladimir Voltchkov on hard. The only surface they have to fear these two on is grass.

Sick Justine and Fed Cup
It's undetermined as to whether Henin-Hardenne really has mono, but she's sick enough to have pulled out of Berlin and now she's not scheduled to play until Roland Garros. Her No. 1 ranking will be at risk there, but how serious her top spot is threatened will also depend on Kim Clijsters' health and [possible] performances in Berlin and Rome. Serena Williams has entered Rome and may take a wild card into Berlin.

http://www.********************/tr.net_photos_art/NAVRATILOVA_rc_fcc_04_fh.jpg
Ron Cioffi/tr.net
Martina Navratilova will play Fed Cup doubles in Slovenia.If we manage to make it across the Italy-Slovenian border, tr.net will be reporting live from the US-Slovenia Fed Cup tie beginning on Thursday. Venus Williams leads Captain Zina Garrison's US squad, which will include Lisa Raymond doing double duty in singles and doubles; Martina Navratilova, who is hoping to follow up on her fine play in Charleston last week; and rookie Laura Granville sitting and learning.

The Slovaks could trot out 24-year-old Maja Matezvic to play singles, who in the same locale last year, was crushed by Russians Vera Zvonareva and Anastasia Myskina. Or Captain Mima Jausovec may go with competent standbys Tina Pisnik and Katernia Srebotnik. It should be a very interesting, sold-out tie on outdoor red clay.

Frenchwoman Emilie Loit has had an amazing two week run, winning Casablanca and Estoril back to back. She beat the rising Iveta Benesova 7-5, 7-6(1) in the Estoril final. Will Loit have a chance to play Fed Cup singles against Germany in Amiens this week, or will she have to settle for doubles play and let veterans Amelie Mauresmo and Mary Piece do the individual lifting? It's on Guy Forget.

Another tie to keep your eyes on is Italy and its veteran team (Farina and Schiavone) at home vs. the Czech teens of Strycova and Vaidsova. Spain is playing at home on clay against the Swiss and is bringing back old warrior Conchita Martinez, but captain Miguel Margats hasn't decided yet between Marta Marrero and Maria Sanchez Lorenzo to play singles, both of whom are having good seasons. If I'm Swiss captain Zoltan Kuharszky, I'm going with Myriam Casanova over Emmanuelle Gagliardi. Patty "the ball hider" Schnyder will play No. 1 singles.

Jennifer Capriati and coach Craig Kardon hooked up last week in Charleston for a try out. … Safin is being coached by Roger' Federer's old coach, Peter Lungren. … By the way, yours truly made an appearance on the TTC's Tennis Insiders last week. If you're interested in watching me struggle like Sampras on clay against the likes of Miles, Laver and Pasarell, I'm sure it will be re-run again. tr.net friend and "Jimmy Connors Saved My Life" author Joel Drucker is on the women's Tennis Insider's panel with Larry Scott, Gavin Forbes and Giscafre.

tennisIlove09
Apr 21st, 2004, 06:08 AM
U.S. Open Series Offers Different Delivery For Great Tennis
http://www.sportsmediainc.net/tennisweek/USOPENSeries2004-logo.jpg
By Andre Christopher
04/21/2004

The USTA assembled many of tennis’s disparate entities on Tuesday to announce what even cynical observers would have to hail as a revolutionary and progressive venture: the U.S. Open Series, which packages the North American summer hard court tournaments as a road to the U.S. Open. Missing from the assemblage, however, was the one entity that was on board with the Series from Day 1: USA Network.


USA Network, which owns the cable broadcast rights to the U.S. Open through 2008, agreed to be a partner in the U.S. Open Series when the maverick idea of USTA Chief Executive Professional Tennis Arlen Kantarian was announced in August 2002. But 20 months later, with the Series 12 weeks from its launch, the only real mention of USA Network was during the snappy video presentation toward the beginning of the news conference and in the form of a network logo on the pocket schedules distributed during the event at midtown Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel, roughly nine blocks from USA Network offices.

The change is reflective of on-going changes in the sports programming landscape, as well as the evolution of the U.S. Open Series itself.

“The direction the USTA took the Series is different from the direction we were expecting way back when,” said USA Network Vice President Gordon Beck. “What they are implementing this year is not changing the basis of the tournaments. They’re putting them under one umbrella. What they originally talked about was creating more combined men’s and women’s events, a few mini-Key Biscaynes (NASDAQ-100 Open), if you would, that would be big events, but something less than a Grand Slam (tournament). There were many practical and logistical obstacles to overcome. It was an issue of timing; a lot would have to happen.”

One of the events that had been discussed for development as a dual-gender tournament was the Tennis Masters Series event in Cincinnati (properly the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters). Cincinnati had a women’s event for more than 75 years, but this year is the first time the city will have a WTA Tour event since 1988. However, the women go to Cincinnati two weeks after the men are there, and the women’s event is not part of the U.S. Open Series. In fact, with the door still open for San Diego’s Acura Classic to join the Series, Cincinnati’s Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open is the only North American summer hard court event that is definitely not included in the Series.

“For now,” stressed tournament chair Paul Flory, who has run the event since 1975. “They wanted to start the Series with (WTA Tour) Tier I and Tier II events. We’re a Tier III. So things could change down the road.”

As is, the U.S. Open Series will start the week of July 12 with the Mercedes-Benz Cup, presented by Countrywide, the ATP event in Los Angeles, and the Bank of the West Classic, presented by SAP, the WTA Tour event in Stanford, Calif. It will culminate 48 days and seven cities later with the TD Waterhouse Cup, the ATP event in Long Island, and the Pilot Pen, the WTA Tour event in New Haven, Conn.

Two factors that give the Series its sizzle are the unprecedented television coverage and the bonus system that will give the respective men’s and women’s series winners the chance to win close to $2 million if they also win the U.S. Open. Additionally, the Series will have a unified sponsorship and marketing structure, which might not get fans juiced up, per se, but will create order that everyone hopes will spark the excitement to lure general sports fans to tennis in unprecedented fashion.

Under the bonus system, the players who perform best in the U.S. Open Series could receive from 10 percent to 100 percent additional earnings for winning the U.S. Open. This year, the U.S. Open Series winners could increase their U.S. Open take as tournament champion by 50 percent, increasing to 100 percent – double – in 2005. Last year’s U.S. Open champions won $1 million, but that is likely to increase to between $1.05 million and $1.1 million this year.

ESPN and ESPN2, which bill themselves as “the Grand Slam Networks” since they televise the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon, will broadcast 92 hours of U.S. Open Series tennis. “This allows us to have a little piece (of the U.S. Open),” said ESPN Executive Vice President Mark Shapiro, “to be at the table and do everything we can to set up the big banquet.” Additionally, CBS, which has the broadcast network rights to the U.S. Open through 2008, will televise the semifinals and finals of the men’s Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, D.C., and the women’s Pilot Pen. With the early round coverage that The Tennis Channel will provide from all the U.S. Open Series events, plus the single-event coverage by NBC (RCA Championships in Indianapolis) and Fox Sports Net (TD Waterhouse Cup) and the full U.S. Open telecast by CBS and USA Network, tennis will receive close to 500 hours of coverage this summer.

“We will have for the first time ever in the sport a nationally-branded campaign throughout the country,” the USTA’s Kantarian said. “We are going to create a uniformed look. We are going to try to bring the excitement of the U.S. Open to every tournament, yet… every tournament will continue to have its own character and its own flavor.

“Television is going to drive interest. A united web site (USOpenSeries.com) is going to drive more interest and again that national marketing platform and campaign. Certainly that bonus system is going to help.”

To a person, all involved agree that launching the U.S. Open Series now is the right thing to do. That it all came together within three years is nothing short of spectacular. In what ProServ founder Donald Dell, now senior vice president of Clear Channel Entertainment, quite accurately called a “love in,” everyone praised the USTA’s Kantarian for seeing this through as if ready to anoint him commissioner of professional tennis worldwide.

Even USA’s Beck, who has been heading the network’s U.S. Open coverage for 20 years, said, “USA is totally supportive of anything that’s going to bring a comprehensive approach to tennis coverage. It’s wonderful.

“…I take a rather pragmatic view. The more the U.S. Open is mentioned, the better it is for us. If it’s ESPN carrying that message or any other network, terrific. …The live coverage is exclusive to USA and CBS.”

The change in U.S. Open Series content aside, USA Network could not have made much, if any, commitment to it this year because with parent company Vivendi Universal on the verge of merging with NBC, USA will be pulled into Olympics coverage with U.S. Olympic trials at the least.

ESPN’s aggressive immersion into tennis recently, with its acquisition of the rights to Roland Garros (the French Open) and Wimbledon, make speculation of future interest in the U.S. Open reasonable, particularly now with their role in the U.S. Open Series. But Shapiro is very quick to point out that the networks’ commitments to college football make a U.S. Open pickup impossible. It is worth noting, however, that the broadcast network rights holder for Roland Garros and Wimbledon is NBC.

“It’s fair to say there will probably be some changes in what the networks are doing in the years ahead,” said Beck.

Related stories:

USTA To Announce U.S. Open Summer Series (http://www.sportsmediainc.com/tennisweek/“http://www.sportsmediainc.com/tennisweek/index.cfm?func=showarticle&newsid=10810”)

USTA, ESPN Close To Completing Deal For U.S. Open Series (http://www.sportsmediainc.com/tennisweek/index.cfm?func=showarticle&newsid=10529)

Knizzle
Apr 21st, 2004, 06:11 AM
Darn, I wish I had the Tennis Channel. Combined with this coverage there would be nonstop tennis for the whole summer. I didn't know Serena was playing San Diego. She doesn't have it on her commitment list on her site I don't think. I hope she does play though.

Volcana
Apr 21st, 2004, 06:28 AM
Raquel Giscafre is a short-sighted idiot. In more ways than when.

First, there's clearly a limit to how far he can see north.
"We are the only Tier I women's tournament in the summer and didn't want to be lumped in with the others."Ever hear of Rogers AT&T Cup, Raquel? Happens in the summer, a couple weeks before the US Open?

Also, how can an effort to create several million more tennis players possibly do anything but help you? If you already had your own deal with ESPN, surely there was a way you could have joined the USOPen series in name only? You bear your own expense, keep your own profit, they advertise you a little at Stanford and Los Angeles, they get to say you're part of the series.

There's an easy deal hear that cost the principals little, and gains each.

Bunch of short-sighted, me-first, boneheaded motherfuckers run tennis is the damn problem, all 'round.

Knizzle
Apr 21st, 2004, 06:41 AM
Raquel Giscafre is a short-sighted idiot. In more ways than when.

First, there's clearly a limit to how far he can see north.
Ever hear of Rogers AT&T Cup, Raquel? Happens in the summer, a couple weeks before the US Open?

Also, how can an effort to create several million more tennis players possibly do anything but help you? If you already had your own deal with ESPN, surely there was a way you could have joined the USOPen series in name only? You bear your own expense, keep your own profit, they advertise you a little at Stanford and Los Angeles, they get to say you're part of the series.

There's an easy deal hear that cost the principals little, and gains each.

Bunch of short-sighted, me-first, boneheaded motherfuckers run tennis is the damn problem, all 'round.
I think she meant the only US tier 1. Hopefully by San Diego staying out of the series, they will also show more than just a SF and F like the other tournaments are showing.

tennisIlove09
Apr 21st, 2004, 06:45 AM
Fox Sportsnet has normally had decent coverage of the Acura. QF, SF, F.

Knizzle
Apr 21st, 2004, 06:46 AM
Fox Sportsnet has normally had decent coverage of the Acura. QF, SF, F.
Sounds like ESPN has the Acura now.

Brian Stewart
Apr 21st, 2004, 07:23 AM
Mr. Beck was probably disappointed that there weren't any combined tournaments because it would mean covering WTA-only events, and having to show more early round women's matches (something he hates to do). And he certainly wouldn't want anyone to see other women players besides a select few.

It would be good to see San Diego and the women's Cincinnati event added. That Tier I and Tier II only stuff is ridiculous. A couple of the men's events included aren't the equivalent to Tier I's or II's, so why can't a Tier III WTA event be?

I hope there is good coverage, beyond semis and finals and the odd quarters. And the way for ESPN to really contribute would be to give the series extensive coverage/promotion on SportsCenter, complete with all scores and updated "standings".

I think we can rule out the possibility of a "Wimbledon Series" though. They're not going to try something like this and risk the women's champ coming out with more prize money. But I could see something similar attempted with the buildup to the French Open. And you know how these slams love to get in pissing contests with each other.

And what the tours could really use is a similar "Race to the Championships" in the fall, as players make the final sprint to the YEC.

As for Serena entering San Diego, I just read an article a few hours ago saying that the tourney had scored the "Baker's Dozen"; all of the top 13 players, from Justine through Venus. In a 48-draw with 16 seeds, they could have top 20 players going unseeded, and top 50 players in qualifying.

tennisIlove09
Apr 21st, 2004, 08:31 PM
Mr. Beck was probably disappointed that there weren't any combined tournaments because it would mean covering WTA-only events, and having to show more early round women's matches (something he hates to do). And he certainly wouldn't want anyone to see other women players besides a select few.

It would be good to see San Diego and the women's Cincinnati event added. That Tier I and Tier II only stuff is ridiculous. A couple of the men's events included aren't the equivalent to Tier I's or II's, so why can't a Tier III WTA event be?

I hope there is good coverage, beyond semis and finals and the odd quarters. And the way for ESPN to really contribute would be to give the series extensive coverage/promotion on SportsCenter, complete with all scores and updated "standings".

I think we can rule out the possibility of a "Wimbledon Series" though. They're not going to try something like this and risk the women's champ coming out with more prize money. But I could see something similar attempted with the buildup to the French Open. And you know how these slams love to get in pissing contests with each other.

And what the tours could really use is a similar "Race to the Championships" in the fall, as players make the final sprint to the YEC.

As for Serena entering San Diego, I just read an article a few hours ago saying that the tourney had scored the "Baker's Dozen"; all of the top 13 players, from Justine through Venus. In a 48-draw with 16 seeds, they could have top 20 players going unseeded, and top 50 players in qualifying.
You know what? That's good idea. If the USTA and ESPN can come up with the "US Open Series", they should really try that with all the majors.

The OZ we could have maybe Gold Coast and Sydney.
Paris we could have Amelia Island; Charleston; Rome; Berlin...and maybe Madrid
Wimbledon we could have Birmingham and Eastbourne.

We have the Open.

And then we could have an "Final Race to LA" Series, with Japan, Filderstat, Moscow, Zurich, Linz.

alexusjonesfan
Apr 21st, 2004, 08:49 PM
Sounds great!

I wouldn't mind a triple crown (German/Italian/French Open) clay series either. You'd see more top players playing both Berlin and Rome :bounce:

CanadianGuy
Apr 21st, 2004, 09:36 PM
lol... US Open series includes Toronto/Montreal, they do realize Canada is a country right?:) That's why the CANADIAN Open, not Pilot Pen. I think there must be some catch to this US Open series though. There must be a pretty good amount of fee they have to pay to get on tv. Plus this is their first year, and could be canceled or downgraded next year. I would save it first too though if I have to pay too much to get the tournament on tv.